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Backtracking Batman: Arkham Asylum

by on April 1, 2013
 

Note: Backtrack articles only include our ‘fun level’ factor while playing an old game. It is not a review, and is meant to be similar to a person-to-person conversation. These articles may contain spoilers. You’ve been warned.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the most talked about games this generation. Arkham Asylum brought Batman back to mainstream video games, and it had such great success it even spawned an equally successful sequel. Let’s go back to August 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum demo is released and I quickly downloaded it, just like every other Batman fan in the world. Now comes the point where I start to separate from every other Batman fan in the world, I DON’T like the demo! I feel the camera’s field of view is too close, controls felt a little too stiff, sluggish, rigid, and above all, I wasn’t having fun. I’m not sure what I expected, but a game that was high on my radar completely went out of sight after completing the demo. Fast forward a couple years, Games for Windows (before it became part of the Xbox Marketplace), was having a sale on Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY (PC). I can’t recall the exact price, but it was really cheap at the time, so I picked it up. Equipped with my wired Xbox 360 controller, I was ready to dive into Batman: Arkham Asylum once and for all.

Initial Opinion (PC)

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Something was different, my gripes about the demo started to fade. Field of view seemed fine on PC and while the controls didn’t feel perfect, they weren’t as terrible as I remembered. Was the demo a bad representation of the game, or is the PC version superior? Whatever the reason is, I’ll never know. Maybe nothing is different between the two versions, and I was just better prepared for what the game was presenting.

Story

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It took me a while to get into the story, but around 30% of the way through the game, I was hooked. I started playing daily, and every time I thought I was near the end, the story’s progress meter reminded me I was only 40%, 50%, or 60% of the way through the game. How much better could the story get? Or would the story suffer since there’s so much left, did the developer (Rocksteady) add a bunch of filler? Needless to say, the story continued on a great path. Although instead of mini-objectives, you were facing much larger objectives, and larger enemies (literally). It finally got to the point when I did feel like I’m really Batman, fighting my way out of Arkham Asylum to not only save myself but all of the people of Gotham. Job well done Rocksteady… job well done!

Combat

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There sure is a lot of fighting in Arkham Asylum. Almost any area you enter, there will be armed and/or unarmed goons waiting to take you out. Luckily, if you’re clever about your approach, it can be a very quick and simple encounter, even if you’re severely outnumbered. Using Batman’s gadgets, you’re able to zip around ceilings, anchor to gargoyles, platforms, or anything else you can use to your advantage. Once you’ve established the higher ground, you can take enemies out one by one, or use a multiple Batarang to stun a few enemies next to one another only to quickly swoop in and knock both of them out.

Technically, the combat system is easy, press a button to hit an enemy. Although to master it takes patience, understanding, and precise timing. Once you get into a groove and you’re punching, dodging, stunning, countering, you’ll experience an immaculate feeling like you’re an elite crime fighter. It took me until about 45% of the way through the game to finally understand the nuances of combat in Arkham Asylum.

Graphics & Sound

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Everyone knows this game looks and sounds amazing. I just wanted to touch a little bit on each.

Graphics:
Great details in all of the right places, from the way Batman’s cape gracefully flows to the expressions in Joker’s face. A++++++!!! (like an old Ebay comment)

Sound:
Jumping off of an insanely high building or tower just to hear the sound of Batman’s cape catch the wind and glide over enemies below.
Combat – punching, dodging, countering, and throwing the Batarang or launching the Batclaw, all top notch effects!